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Celgene Corporation’s (CELG - Analyst Report) first quarter 2013 earnings (excluding special items but including stock-based compensation expense) of $1.22 per share beat the year-ago earnings by 27.1%. Higher revenues drove earnings in the reported quarter. The Zacks Consensus Estimate was $1.24 per share.

Quarter in Details

Total revenue climbed 15% to $1.46 billion in the first quarter of 2013. Revenues were boosted by the impressive performance of Celgene’s cancer drugs Revlimid, Abraxane and Vidaza. Net product sales climbed 13.9% to $1.42 billion. Revenues were in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate.

Net sales of Revlimid, the key growth driver at Celgene, came in at $1 billion, reflecting an increase of 16% over the year-ago period. The drug did well both in the US (up 16%) and international markets (up 17%). Market share gains and increased duration of therapy drove sales in the first quarter of 2013.

Net sales of Vidaza spiked 10% to $204 million, driven by increased demand for the drug. Sales in international markets climbed 4% to $117 million. US sales of Vidaza increased 18% to $87 million, despite the loss of exclusivity in 2011.

Net sales of another cancer drug, Abraxane, climbed 18% to $123 million. The drug did well both in the US (up 15%) and international markets (up 23%).Sales in the US were boosted by the label expansion of the drug into the non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) indication in the final quarter of 2012. Strong performance of the drug in Japan and Europe boosted international sales in the first quarter of 2013.

US sales of Pomalyst, approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in Feb 2013 in combination with low-dose dexamethasone for the treatment of relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma patients, who have received at least two prior therapies, came in at $22 million in the first quarter of 2013.

Net sales of another cancer drug, Thalomid, continued to decline due to the availability of better alternatives. Thalomid sales were $57 million, down 26%.

Research and development (R&D) expenses (excluding stock-based compensation and other special items) climbed 4.8% to $330 million in the first quarter of 2013. Selling, general and administrative expenses (excluding stock-based compensation and other special items) in the quarter increased 11.4% to $333 million. Costs associated with the launches of Abraxane in the NSCLC indication and Pomalyst primarily led to the rise in SG&A expenses.

Outlook for 2013 Adjusted

Apart from announcing financial results, Celgene adjusted its guidance for 2013 provided in January. Celgene now expects adjusted earnings for 2013 in the range of $5.55–$5.65 per share (old guidance: $5.50–$5.60 per share), up 14%.

Celgene continues to expect 2013 net product sales of $6 billion, up 11%. Revlimid will continue performing well with sales projected in the range of $4.1–$4.2 billion, up 10% year over year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2013 pegs earnings at $5.09 per share on revenues of $6.1 billion.

Celgene carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) in the short run. Stocks such as UCB SA (UCBJF), Athersys, Inc. (ATHX - Snapshot Report) and Cleveland BioLabs, Inc. appear to be more attractive. All three companies carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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